Last year, the highest pump prices for gasoline came just ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The national average price reached $2.98 a gallon, but it didn’t hit that level again all year and by December had dropped to $2.26 a gallon, the lowest average of the year.
Earlier this week, the national average price was $2.89 a gallon. By Thursday that price had dropped by a penny, and GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, is predicting that drivers in many parts of the country will be paying less for gas in just a few days.
“It’s been a rough spring at the pump with prices advancing at a maddening pace and multi-year highs happening in more places than I can count on two hands,” said DeHaan. “We’re cautiously optimistic now that the worst is behind us and relief is on the horizon for nearly every area in the country. Motorists shouldn’t get too impatient–this won’t happen overnight–but as stations begin to fill their tanks with slightly cheaper gasoline, they’ll begin to pass the savings on, just in time for Memorial Day and beyond.”
So far in 2019, gasoline prices have risen by 33 cents a gallon, the most since a jump of 43 cents a gallon in the same period in 2015. Including a 55 cent-per-gallon jump in 2009, the 10-year average increase for this period has been 41 cents a gallon.
Gas prices rise every year between February and May due to seasonal maintenance and the switch to summer grade fuel at U.S. refineries. This year’s prices have been larger because crude oil prices have been increasing due to sanctions on Iran and production cuts from OPEC and its partners.
California drivers already have gotten some relief this week with the average price in the state dropping from $4.11 a gallon on Monday to $4.09. Not much, but a start. Drivers in Hawaii are paying more ($3.80 versus $3.76), as are Nevada ($3.51 versus $3.50) motorists. Drivers in Washington are still paying $3.49, and Alaska drivers are saving a penny a gallon ($3.41 versus $3.42). Drivers in Oregon, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Utah, Idaho and Connecticut are also paying more than $3 a gallon.
At the other end of the price curve, drivers in Alabama ($2.49 versus $2.50 on Monday) and drivers in Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina ($2.53) are also one or two cents less.
GasBuddy also notes that barring a major reversal in the trend toward lower gas prices, a national average price of $3 a gallon or more is unlikely to happen this year. Gas prices haven’t soared above $3 a gallon since 2014. Last year’s national average was $2.72.